Chris Kluwe still plans to sue Vikings

ByBen Goessling via ESPN logo
Saturday, July 19, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe criticized the team's response to a six-month independent investigation into his allegations of homophobic behavior in the organization, saying a 29-page summary of the investigation contained an inaccurate representation of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer's conduct.

The Vikings released the summary on Friday evening, announcing Priefer would be suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2014 season after he admitted making a homophobic remark during the 2012 season.

Kluwe, however, stood by his initial allegation that Priefer made multiple homophobic comments during that season, adding he still plans to file suit against the Vikings in Minnesota state court next week. His attorney, Clayton Halunen, plans to request the full 150-page report on the investigation, and Halunen said on Saturday he could get the full report within 30 days.

Long-snapper Cullen Loeffler told investigators he remembered Priefer saying something about "putting all the gays on an island and nuking it" during the 2012 season, and Priefer -- who had denied the allegation in a Jan. 6 meeting with investigators -- said he was "not going to disagree with it" after being informed of Loeffler's response in May.

Priefer apologized for the remark in a Friday statement, and the summary did not support Kluwe's allegation that Priefer routinely criticized the punter for his support of same-sex marriage in 2012. Kluwe, however, said he was confident a trial would support his allegation that Priefer made more than one homophobic remark, adding he's prepared to be in a legal battle "for the long haul."

"I think there's a big difference between guys (talking) to independent investigators and guys being willing to perjure themselves," he said. "They might remember things differently if it turns out there's actual jail time at stake."

The punter added that kicker Blair Walsh -- who told investigators the comment did not sound like something Priefer would have said -- recalled the comment to Kluwe during an April 2013 locker room conversation, and Halunen said he provided investigators with text messages from Walsh to Kluwe that corroborated the claim.

NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello praised Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf for ordering the investigation of Kluwe's allegations.

"We support our clubs enforcing their workplace policies and commend the Wilfs for doing a thorough investigation and taking appropriate steps in response to the findings," he wrote.

Kluwe, however, said the Vikings' discipline of Priefer didn't go far enough. In settlement discussions with the Vikings, Halunen had argued that Priefer should be suspended for four to eight games. That kind of punishment, Kluwe said, would have been fair in light of NFL discipline for players and coaches involved in recent scandals in New Orleans and Miami.

"Based on the NFL's code of conduct, and the Vikings' code of conduct, this is something that deserves a significant amount of time," Kluwe said. "In the Bountygate (case in New Orleans), the head coach (Sean Payton) was suspended for a year. (Defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely. In the Miami investigation (of Jonathan Martin's bullying claims), a trainer (Kevin O'Neill) and a coach (offensive line coach Jim Turner) were fired. A DUI, it's a four-game suspension for that offense. I don't think that should be out of the norm (for Priefer's comments)."

A Vikings representative said Loeffler and new coach Mike Zimmer were unavailable for comment on Saturday, adding that general manager Rick Spielman would detail the terms of Priefer's suspension after the Vikings report for training camp next week.

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